The Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources has said the issue of climate change is a matter of "life and death" for people around the world.

Alex White said it will also be a big issue for Ireland and other countries in the medium term.

The minister is attending a conference in the Peruvian capital Lima, which is working towards agreeing a draft climate change agreement, ahead of a summit to finalise a legally binding document in Paris next year.

Ireland has been named as one of only four developed countries that have not contributed to a Green Climate Fund, set up to help developing nations achieve their targets.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Minister White said that Ireland had contributed €34 million in grants to pubic climate finance around the world over the last two years.

In explaining why the Government had not yet contributed to the Green Climate Fund he said: "We are already funding the kinds of projects that you would hope to see and would want to see funded by the fund itself, so the question is how do we leverage that funding that we already have in place, how do we combine that perhaps with new funding,  how do we bring together a real  contribution one that will actually have an impact".

Minister White said that Ireland is contributing to meeting the EU's collective 2030 target for reducing emissions by 40%.

However he admitted that Ireland did not have its own specific targets for 2030 and he said work needed to be done to ensure countries had their own specific targets.

"One of the issues that is still in play here in Lima is the question of how countries translate their headline targets into action and that in many ways is one of the sticking points here in Lima. How do we ensure that countries will deliver on headline targets.

"What exactly are they going to do, what actions will they take in their own countries".

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has expressed deep concern about slow action to combat climate change.

He told governments at the Lima conference that there was no "time for tinkering" and urged a radical shift to greener economies.

Mr Ban said there was still a chance of limiting global warming to an internationally agreed ceiling of 2C (3.6F) above pre-industrial times to help avert floods, droughts, desertification and rising sea levels.

"But the window of opportunity is fast narrowing," he told delegates from about 190 nations at the talks.

"This is not a time for tinkering; it is a time for transformation," he said.

Despite signs of progress, "I am deeply concerned that our collective action does not match our common responsibilities," Mr Ban added.

As the climate talks enter their final days, the "Berlin Wall" that has for years divided rich and poor countries once again looms large as negotiators race to write a draft of a global deal that is meant to tear it down.
At the root of the problem is a 1992 UN climate Convention which split the world into rich and poor nations and obliges only the rich to cut emissions.

Since then, however, nations such as Singapore or Mexico have grown rich but are still deemed "poor".

Countries are now grappling with how to redefine these distinctions in a draft deal to be finalised in Paris next year that is meant to limit more heat waves, floods, desertification and rising sea levels.